Update 26 Feb 2007 (2): Following the European Commission's statement of this
morning, the Secretary of State at the German Federal Ministry for Economy,
Bernd Pfaffenbach, declared in a press release today that (in his view contrary
to Ms. Reding's statements earlier today) paragraph 9a of the
Telecommunications Act (TKG) does not provide for a special treatment of DTAG's
VDSL and fibre network.
 
A T-REGS translation of key excerpts is provided below: 

"This is not a case of undermining competition"
[...] "The regulation is formulated in a technology neutral way and is
very closely oriented towards the European directions. The concrete decision,
whether a certain market - e.g. DTAG's VDSL network - is subject to regulation,
is not decided at the legislative level, but by the [regulatory authority]
Bundesnetzagentur through the established regulatory process, which has been
checked with the European Commission." 

"The German government is therefore of the opinion that
paragraph 9a TKG conforms to the EU legal and regulatory framework for
electronic communications".


Update 26 Feb 2007 (1): The European Commission announced today that it had decided to initiate 'fast track' infringement proceedings against Germany relating to the 'emerging markets' clause that is now incorporated in the German Telecommunications Act.
 
A letter of formal notice is being addressed to the German authorities, which are given 15 days to respond. The European Commission also stated that it intends to refer the case to the European Court of Justice as soon as possible.
 
The European Commission's press release (the full text in English is available by clicking here) includes citations of Commissioner Viviane Reding, as follows:

"I regret that Germany has chosen to ignore the Commission's
concerns about this new telecom law despite several clear warnings from the
Commission,"
[...] "The
granting of regulatory holidays to incumbent operators is an attempt to stifle
competition in a crucial sector of the economy, and in violation of the EU
telecom rules in place since 2002."

and
 
"The German decision to grant Deutsche Telekom a 'regulatory holiday' is
bound to lead to numerous legal disputes at EU and national level,
" [...] "This is the worst possible signal for investment, as
now neither the incumbent nor new market entrants will have legal certainty in
Germany. Efficient implementation of EU telecom rules would clearly have been
the better way to promote both competition and investment
."
 
 

Today's German official journal (Bundesgesetzblatt) contains the Act amending the Telecommunications Act. 
 
 
The clauses on 'emerging markets' (see a previous T-REGS news item - with updates - for full details) as well as various other modifications and additions to the existing legislation come into effect tomorrow, i.e. 24 Feb 2007. Article 3 of the Act, which mainly concerns new consumer protection legislation, and which entails new obligations on service providers, comes into effect on 1 Sep 2007.
 
The full text of the amending legislation, the "Gesetz zur Änderung telekommunikationsrechtlicher Vorschriften", is officially dated 18 Feb 2007, and can be accessed (in German only) by clicking here. The corresponding press release of the German Federal Minister Glos can be accessed by clicking here.